Interview With Songwriter/Artists Deborah Allen and Michelle Wright
[Doak Turner] I am talking to Deborah Allen and Michelle Wright about “The Pajama Party Tour” over America.
Deborah Allen Kick it off, Michelle!
Michelle Wright Deborah Allen and myself AND the Kinleys are out doing a tour called “The Pajama Party Tour!” Deborah Allen came up with this great idea that it may be a lot of fun to have great women out on the road together, so we came up with this idea.
Deborah Allen We are out on the road a lot with the men in the bands and crew, and every once in a while it is just nice to hang with the girls.
[Doak Turner] What is that show like?
Michelle Wright We all hit the stage at once. Deborah is a wonderful songwriter. She and Linda Davis wrote a song called “Love In Motion,” a fun up-tempo song. We all four come out together singing that song, then Deborah kicks into “Baby I Lied,” I kick into “Take It Like A Man,” and The Kinleys kick into “Please,” and it is an hour and a half of power packed hits back-to-back. We have all been fortunate in our careers to have successful hits, and when we pull our talents together, it is lie we are bigger that we are!
Deborah Allen It is something that I am really proud to be a part of with these awesome women.
Michelle Wright There is always a lot of unpredictable fun on stage.
[Doak Turner] How long is this tour lasting?
Deborah Allen We have been on the road for six months, giving us a chance to build our show. We just did our first showcase for some international buyers and before we could even leave the building, we had at least six dates in the books. My husband was telling me he is seeing an east coast tour developing.
[Doak Turner] Tell me about your songwriting.
Michelle Wright Well, we all write songs. I am busy writing a new album and Kyle Lemming is going to produce it. Deborah and I are writing songs. Of course, Deborah Allen, for those of you who do not know - and how can you not know - she has had many hits herself, which we do on the Pajama Party Tour. A melody of her songs including, “Don’t Worry About Me Baby,” “Can I see You Tonight,” “I’m Only In It For The Love,” and “Hurt Me Bad In A Real Good Way,” that was recorded by Patti Loveless. There is a lot of songwriting going on during this tour!
Deborah Allen I think this year, as we are all together, we will probably be writing a whole lot more. That is when the best writing occurs. It is nice to sit and write during an appointment, and you have to do that if you are a professional songwriter. Sometimes the best song ideas will spring up when you are just hanging out together and going through life experiences.
[Doak Turner] Do you decide while on tour that you are going to sit down and write, or how does the songwriting happen on the road?
Michelle Wright I would imagine there would be a little bit of both going on during the tour.
Deborah Allen Michelle and I sat an appointment at my house recently, and we ended up talking and did not get any work (songwriting) done.
Michelle Wright We got about a third of a song done then we went and got a milkshake!
Deborah Allen We are both songwriters. I can tell it is going to be a real synergistic thing while we are on the road. It is already happening on stage.
[Doak Turner] Deborah, I was looking at your website and saw that you have had songs covered by several artists, including Diana Ross and Fleetwood Mac. What is that like as a songwriter?
Deborah Allen You know when it is happening it is almost like, “That’s Cool.” As you accumulate things like that and your life progresses, you think that was really wonderful. Anytime an artist other than yourself records your song, it is the greatest compliment in the world.
[Doak Turner] Did you ever think that someone like Diana Ross would record one of your songs you have written?
Deborah Allen I had no idea. I think songs come as a gift and they find their way to their rightful home.
[Doak Turner] Michelle, talk a little about your songwriting besides this tour.
Michelle Wright It has been something that I started about seven years ago. I am particular about what I want to sing. I just started writing, and my last album, which was only released in Canada, I co-wrote eight of the twelve songs on the album. I did a lot of it in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, and Nashville and wrote with some really great songwriters. I need the brainpower of my co-writers on the new album that I am doing to keep me motivated and ensure that I am on the right track.
Deborah Allen Michelle is a very talented songwriter. She has got a lot of creative ideas and she definitely does not need the motivation. I think what happens is sometimes in our world we get so busy that when we make time to sit down for a co-writing session, we know we had better make the best of our time.
[Doak Turner] Please think back to the time that you “wrote up,” writing with a hit songwriter.
Deborah Allen I have been writing up all my life! I felt like I was in this well, and all my friends like Shel Silverstein, Curly Putnam, Don Cook, Ray Van Hoy, Bobby Braddock, Sonny Throckmorton and all of those guys were my buddies. I felt like I was in this well looking up and they were just going, “Come on Deborah, you can make it, come on up!” I just kept striving to be the best that I could and try to always write with people who are great. That is where you learn.
Michelle Wright I am writing with Mike Reid, who co-wrote one of my all-time favorite songs, (Both girls sing) “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” When he sits down at the piano and starts to sing, it is an awesome feeling. I like to write with people like Mike Reid, Stuart Harris and so many great writers, I really appreciate them letting this amateur in the door. I have not had the hits like they have, so it is a privilege.
Deborah Allen Well, she has had them and she has got them. When we are all on the stage at “The Pajama Party Tour,” you get to hear them back-to-back, non-stop. Deborah Allen, Michelle Wright, The Kinleys.
[Doak Turner] That was your idea?
Deborah Allen I appreciate Michelle saying it was my idea, and I guess it was my idea, but we are all out there together. It does not really matter where the idea came from as long as we keep moving along forward and having a great time.
[Doak Turner] Do you have any advice to songwriters who maybe just moved to Nashville?
Michelle Wright Get ready to pay some dues! It is not an easy choice, probably one of the toughest to make a living at for a career.
Deborah Allen I will tell you one of the best advice that I ever got, was from one of my songwriting mentors. Shel Silverstein said to me when I was eighteen years old. he said, “Write, write a lot!”
Michelle Wright There goes [songwriter and recording artist] Billy Dean.
Deborah Allen Oh! We have to stop and get a Billy Dean Kiss.
Billy Dean (Starts singing) "Baby I Lied"!
Deborah Allen (sings) "When I told you I could walk away …"
Billy Dean (Ssings) "Baby I Lied"!
Deborah Allen (to Billy) Love YOU!
Deborah Allen What I was saying … Shel Silverstein, said, “You might write nine really good songs, but it might be that tenth song that is your greatest song. If you do not write that tenth song, you will never know." Another piece of advice my friend Bruce Channel. He wrote the song “Hey Baby.” I walked into a publishing company early one morning and asked him why he was there so early. He replied (slowly talking), “Well Deb, you MUST be present to win.” Write, write a lot and you must be present to win!
Michelle Wright I have had to learn to not to second guess myself and over analyze.
Deborah Allen You always want to strive to be your very best. It is good to second guess a little. Sometimes, when you have that little unique feeling that comes out in your own way of speaking, just let it be.
[Doak Turner] Thanks to the both of you beautiful ladies!